by Maren Schober
It was sudden, it was tragic –and it happened the Friday night of March 9 to Norwich firefighter Benjamin DeMond, 33.
Driving along Interstate 395 in Montville, DeMond was
killed when his vehicle was struck by a Jeep driven by Willis Goodale, 50, of Groton, who police say was drunk at the time of the accident.
DeMond’s children, Alexander, 6, and Nicholas, 4, were also hurt in the crash and are recovering at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
Benjamin DeMond was a much loved son, father, brother, friend and Norwich firefighter. He was highly respected and esteemed by all who knew him. Firefighters and police offic- ers from more than 50 departments across the state arrived at Norwich Free Academy Tuesday, March 13, for the memo- rial service.
Benjamin DeMond is remembered in many ways. As a firefighter he is known for his physique, endurance, and strength. He was the first person ever hired by Norwich Fire Department Chief and Fire Marshal Kenneth Scandariato who said he was struck by Ben’s humility, respect, and passion for the job.
“I knew right away that this young man is exactly what the fire service needed, and I hired him on the spot,” Scandariato remembers. “He set the template for me to follow whenever I chose to hire anyone else.”
He was a blessing to his family as well.
“There is no one else in my life even close to Ben. You just couldn’t help but love the kid. There was something about him that was beyond,” his father, Greg DeMond, said. “If I knew in advance before Ben was born that he would only live for 33 years, I wouldn’t trade one second, and I’d thank God for those 33 years, because every day was a gift. This is going to leave a void in our heart for the rest of our lives.”
“The Norwich Fire Department has been overwhelm- ingly supportive of our family,” remarked Christie Streit, Ben DeMond’s sister. “I know you guys are suffering as much as our family is.”
“We know that Ben is with his sons at this time, and help- ing them through this,” Streit continued. “To live the rest of their lives without him is going to be so hard.”
Benjamin DeMond, 33, a highly esteemed firefighter in Norwich, was killed March 9 when his car was struck by an alleged drunken driver. His two sons are recovering fromtheaccident. The whole Norwich community is coming together raising funds to help his two sons, Alexander, 6, and Nicholas, 4.
Norwich Police Officer John Perry shared a strong friendship with DeMond, since each has small children. Saturday night when Perry was putting his boys to bed, they asked to say a prayer for DeMond and his family.
“I never want to stop hugging and kissing my boys,” shared Perry, “and I am sorry you can’t have that,” he said turning to DeMond’s family.
“But I will look you in the eye right now and make a promise, and ask everybody to help me get those who drink and drive off the streets. I have over 10 years to go (in the department), and I’ll make sure to make good on that promise.”
To help DeMond’s children, contributions can be made to the DeMond Childrens’ Fund, c/o Local 892, 10 North Thame sStreet, Norwich CT 06360